Sunday, April 18, 2021

Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription

Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription
Trincomalee Dockyard Arabic Inscription is one of the Arabic Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently on the display at the Stone Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

A tombstone
This Rajasthan marble slab which has been identified as a tombstone was unearthed during World War II (1939-1945 A.D.) by workmen who were excavating a site for laying water pipes near Ostenberg Point No. I and Chappel Hill in Nicholson's house overlooking Trincomalee harbour (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). After keeping it in the Kachcheri premises for a few days, the slab was later brought to the museum in May 1963 (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006).

The slab is rectangular in shape while its upper part has a multifoil arch shape. Its total height is 0.94 m (height of the arch 0.32 m) and the width is 0.49 m [(except the arch) Kalus & Guillot, 2006]. The writing has been engraved on the edge of the arch, inside the arch, both sides of the lamp, in the horizontal strip separating the arch from the lower part, in the rectangular field consisting of seven lines, and on the strip that runs around the border. The slab is ornamented with leaf and flower designs. The calligraphy of the inscription is typically Hispano-Arab [(Arabesque) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
The inscription is written in early Naskhi or Rayhani which was in use in early Eastern Islam between the 5th and 7th Century after Hijra (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). It records the death of the martyr, Qadi 'Atifu' d-Din 'Abdu'llah son of Abdu'r Rahman son of Muhammad son of Yusuf al-'Alaw (Dasanayaka, 2017; Kalus & Guillot, 2006). Besides the main writing, it also contains some verses (27/80, 27/31) from Quran (Kalus & Guillot, 2006). This inscription has been dated in A.H. 808 Safar 19 [(16 August 1405) Kalus & Guillot, 2006].
 
References
1) Dasanayaka, R., 2017. Arabs in Serandib: Trade relations between Sri Lanka and West Asia from ancient time to 15th century A. D.: Historical and Archaeological Survey. S. Godage & Brothers. ISBN: 978-955-30. pp.207-208,350-351.
2) Kalus, L. and Guillot, C., 2006. Réinterprétation des plus anciennes stèles funéraires islamiques nousantariennes: III. Sri Lanka (In French). Archipel, 72(1), pp.47-52.

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This page was last updated on 18 April 2021
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